Before coming into the final episode of the first season of His Dark Materials, “Betrayal”, I read a YouTube comment that went something along the lines of “poor Roger.”
After reading this, it was pretty apparent that my suspicions from the cliffhanger of the previous episode, that Asriel wanted Roger for a very dark reason, would turn out to be true.
And, all I can think after watching the Jamie Childs directed finale, “Betrayal”, is that Lyra has the worst parents ever.
Seriously, I have no idea why I thought Asriel would turn out to be a good person when he is in love with Coulter; you know, the woman willing to sacrifice children to get what she wants.
It only makes sense that Asriel has the same ruthlessness to achieve his goal, which turns out to be the case when he murders Roger in order to open a bridge to the multiverse.
James McAvoy does a fantastic job as Asriel in this scene as he tries to justify his actions to Roger while he is about to murder him.
Both he and Coulter are fascinating in their ruthlessness and hypocrisy, willing to kill many children to achieve their goals while remaining adamant that nothing must happen to Lyra.
It is this hypocrisy that leads Coulter to refuse to follow Asriel into the multiverse because she wants to find their daughter.
This makes it ironic that Lyra follows Asriel into the multiverse immediately afterwards to stop him, separating her again from Coulter.
Honestly, Asriel leaving Lyra at Jordan College was the only good thing he ever did for her.
As well as the fascinating aspects of Asriel and Coulter’s characters, another interesting feature is the explanation of why the Magisterium fears Dust, believing it to be the cause of human sin.
Asriel wants to escape from the grip of the Magisterium, which is why he sacrifices Roger so cruelly.
Before this, we did get more scenes of Roger and Lyra bonding to make his death all the more tragic because we can see how good of a friend he was.
The scene of Roger’s demise is expertly handled with the acting from both Dafne Keen and Llewin Loyd, and the sound design, giving it an extra emotional punch.
As for Will, his role is almost as important with his entry into Lyra’s dimension being built up right up until the two enter the bridges at the end of the episode.
This was a nice case of editing for the end of “Betrayal” and opens up some interesting directions for the second season to go with both characters exploring the other’s universes.
The two are definitely linked.
Now, for the issues I had with the episode, which is mainly down to a few things that did not make much sense, like when the armoured bears showed up out of nowhere to help Lyra and Iorek.
I’m pretty sure they did not come with them in the previous episode so when did they get there?
Also, Roger definitely distrusts Asriel so it does not make sense for him to follow the man so willingly.
Then there is the lack of Lee and Serafina because it felt like they were set up to return and help Lyra this episode but they were nowhere in sight.
Overall, though, “Betrayal” is a fitting finale for the season that ends a lot of character arcs in a satisfying, yet tragic, way.
I am certainly looking forward to the second season.